Days 102-112: Ants marching to the beat of the same drum

  
  I know it’s been a while since The Dave Matthews Band released their ‘Ants Marching’ song (September, 1995).

21 years and 8 months ago, but who’s counting? πŸ™‚ 

Here’s the official video if you’d like to be transported back: 

Alot has happened to me in those 21 years and 8 months.

I would imagine alot has happened to you too if your birthdate is anywhere south of September 1995.

Two distinct ‘bar memories’ for some reason (I think just because I was in my early to mid 20’s trying to figure out life and how I fit into it) stick out to me when I hear any Dave Matthews Band (DMB) song:

1.  A bar in downtown Charlottesville, VA where in July 1994 I got drunk for the 1st time. I was with my sister, and some of her college friends at the University of Virginia (UVA),  and she told me there was this really cool band called ‘The Dave Matthews Band’ that was going to hit it big soon, as she’d seen them play on her campus there. Thank you sis! Such fond memories of that evening. Do you remember the bar’s name?

2. A bar in San Francisco called ‘Holy Cow’ (I think?) with my flat mate, Heather, and some of her friends. Heather invited me out that night as I think she knew I could really use some time out with others as I had just broken up with someone I’d been dating for over 4 years. I will forever be grateful for her kindness to me that night. One of her friends was really into the DMB, and played this ‘Ants Marching’ song on their jukebox that night. 

It’s funny how having a certain amount of life experience can change how you view a song many years later.

I never paid much mind to the lyrics of the Ants Marching song. 

I was mainly just into the mix of instruments, the melodies, and the beat.

One of the lyrics to the ‘Ants Marching’ song that I just recently learned though has really given me pause.

It goes…

‘The week ends the week begins

She thinks, we look at each other

Wondering what the other is thinking

But we never say a thing

These crimes between us grow deeper.’

Stunned.

How many of my weeks and days are like this?

Oh, I don’t want to admit. 

I don’t want to say how many times my wife and I look at each other in the midst of parenting, working, living that we don’t say a thing to each other, rather we let the ‘crimes between us grow deeper.’

How many of our days here on this planet are filled with just wondering what another person is thinking about, us or anything, but we never actually get to know? 

What if we did know?

What if we asked?

What if we truly cared to know what our significant other, dear to us, is thinking? 

What if we made time for that other person to feel safe in expressing what they were thinking?

What if we made time for just OURSELVES to understand what we are thinking, and how that thinking ultimately guides our days in either positive or negative ways?

I suspect if we did many of these ‘What Ifs’, our pale blue dot with all its ants marching would maybe look much different than it does now? 

I don’t know.

Hopefuly it would be different in a good way.

I love how music can take something so morbid as our own very limited time here, put some distinctly upbeat melodies around the lyrics, and make the story telling ultimately happy and inviting. 

I love how this song is an anthem to simply not waste time while you’re here on the pale blue dot.

I think Dave and his band are trying to tell us to take a chance NOW. 

Don’t wait and put whatever you think you need to put in that box for a ‘quieter time’.  

That time may never come.

Or, when it does come, it won’t mean the same thing to you as it could mean now.

There is so much more to say on this topic, but I think this opens the door, so to speak, on what hopefully turns into further posts on living a meaningful life full of love and gratefulness for the people in our lives.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Your comments are always welcome.

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Days 68-101: Resistance 101 times 3…a simple way to resist that requires little effort, yet maximal impact.

In my last post, I mentioned not waiting on our government to do what we need to do to fix our pale blue dot of a planet.

I’d like to elaborate a bit more today on this not waiting part.

Warning…this is a going to be a bit of a rant…apologies in advance if your RQ (Rant Quota) has already been reached this week.

Please feel free to exit gracefully HERE.

You’re welcome.

Ok, RQs-not-met-people, here we go…

The best way I can think to elaborate on this not waiting on our government concept is by sharing a news story I saw back in March. 

Here it is…

EPA Says It Will Allow Continued Sale Of Controversial Pesticide

by Dan Charles

NPR – March 30, 2017
[Copyright 2017 NPR]…

Story link below:

http://www.npr.org/2017/03/30/522015717/epa-says-it-will-allow-continued-sale-of-controversial-pesticide?sc=17&f=1007&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app

If you can, please take a moment and listen to, or read, Mr. Dan Charles’s excellent piece, and please come back.

Ok, thanks for coming back…

Now if you’re anything like me, when you hear a story like this (pretty much a 2 or 3 times a day occurrence with our current government), your immediate reaction is probably something akin to the following:

‘Holy [Insert Choice Expletive]! Look at what they’ve done now!’

So I had that reaction.

And then I thought…

‘Wait a minute…I don’t tend to buy food that’s grown using this chemical.  I should have nothing to worry about, right?!!’

And if you’re then wondering, well…how did I KNOW the food that I buy isn’t grown using this chemical?!

Didn’t the news story report that this chemical is used by millions of growers in this country, and around the world?

Well, it’s simple, and you’ve probably already guessed it…

I try to buy food from growers that I know and can trust. and when I can’t buy food from those growers, I rely on a simple label added to food that looks like this (see below):

OrganicSeal-small

Never seen this label? 

Want to learn more?  

Click HERE.

And before you roll your eyes at this last sentence, and write me off as just another detached ‘coastal elite’, a ‘hippy-dippy-long-haired-surfer-freak’, I would ask that you read just a few more paragraphs…thank you so much…

The reason I try to buy food from growers I know and can trust at best, and certified organic if I can’t buy from growers I know and trust, is pretty much because of stories like the one above where people in positions of extreme power now like Mr. Pruitt, and his immediate supervisor, our President, appear to not be very concerned about the health of our planet and the organisms inhabitating our planet (i.e. You, me, your children, your children’s children, Fifi, Cuddles, insert any DNA life form) compared to making wealthy people wealthier and removing regulations that help businesses that make and use products that harm people stay in business. 

So…back to buying food from growers you trust…

The reason I buy this way is not only for my own health and the health of my family, but also to support growers who take a bold stand, and don’t rely on these chemicals featured in the story, specifically chlorpyrifos.

It’s important to me to support these growers who find a different way to grow food for people than to spray these harmful chemicals on our food.

And before I go any further, I want to clarify just a few things…

One, I do understand that growers feel the need to spray their crops to stay in business.  

I don’t fault them in particular.  

Just like the politicians above, they can get swept up in the greater ‘good’ conundrums, and rationalize that this is something that HAS to be done to feed their families.  

I get it.  

I don’t fault people for this.  

I do understand the need, and the reason behind that need.

But, and this is a big BUT, just like we made it a priority in the early 70’s to take out lead from our gasoline, we can in 2017 make it a priority to rid our food supply of pesticides. 

And just like there was a great backlash from the other side that didn’t want to have to change things up with leaded gasoline, there will be much consternation in stopping the use and creation of these pesticides. 

The arguements will be the same…     

It’s too expensive.  

Will take too much time.  

There are no better alternatives than using X pesticide to kill Y bug. 

But look at us now almost 40 years after we did decide as a country that this practice of quieting our engines with leaded gasoline was not so quieting to human health.  

We now have much lower levels of lead in our bodies, and in our environment. 

If you want to watch a great rendition of how lead was taken out of our gasoline, and who was chiefly responsible for leading that effort (spoiler…it was Clair Cameron Patterson), watch the new Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Episode 7, The Clean Room

And if your kids ever ask who are the real heroes out there…you would definitely do them a favor by telling them the story of Clair Cameron Patterson.  

Maybe even try and make an action figure of this guy.  

Truly remarkable what he did in the face of much opposition from the scientific and political community in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Ok, getting back again to our food, and how to find local, organic food, that is free of this chemical, chlorpyrifos.

The easiest way is to find a Community Supported Agriculture or CSA farm near you that is practicing organic agriculture, certified or uncertified.  

Here you will be able to purchase incredibly fresh produce (oftentimes less than 24 hours from being harvested from the soil) directly from the grower(s).

Here’s a link to help: 

https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/csas

If your State doesn’t contain a lot of CSAs, don’t give up hope.

Try this link to locate a variety of local food options in your area:

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/local-regional/food-directories

If you are still having trouble, please send me an email at:

drew.mather@gmail.com 

I’ll troubleshoot with you individually on ways to get more control over what you are putting into your body as food three times (maybe less, maybe more) a day.

One caveat I will address…

Being ‘Certified Organic’ doesn’t necessarily mean that the grower is perfect, and their system of farming is perfect.

There  is no perfect system.

Are there cheaters out there?  You bet there are.

Guaranteed.

But you know what?

If nothing else, being Certified Organic opens your farm up to scrutiny by the certifying agency, as well as your customers.

If you are cheating, eventually the certifying agency or your customers will find out.

It’s in the growers’ best interest to produce food safely and without the use of herbicides and pesticides that are not approved for organic agriculture.

Getting back to the resistance…

The best way you can resist…you guessed it…buy food and eat food 3 times a day that only comes from growers that you know don’t use this chemical, chlorpyrifos. 

And guess what?

Guess what happens if enough people decide to do this very simple thing?

Again, you guessed it…

Chlorpyrifos ends up not being used in our nations food supply.

You, the consumer, you the holder of the almighty dollar bill, you, you reading this, YOU have the ULTIMATE power in the universe every time you go to the supermarket.

You cast a vote with every purchase you make.

Your payment of $0.99 per pound for tomatoes grown in Florida or California using Chlorpyrifos to get rid of the growers’ mites, aphids, flea beetles, you name it, and literally any other living organism that comes within a 0.3″ radius of that tomato plant, beneficial insect or not, says that you are OK with them using Chlorpyrifos.

Think of all pesticides, Chlorpyrifos particularly, as agricultural Defender video game smart bombs. 

Click HERE for a refresher if you weren’t around or were checked out in the 1980’s.  You’re welcome πŸ™‚

No bug left behind, or alive for that matter.

Again, you hold the power.

You don’t have to wait for a November primary or June referendum, no, you can tell Scott Pruitt TODAY, and the rest of your days here on the planet with your dollar bill that his decision to allow Chlorpyrifos in our nation’s food supply is frankly unacceptable to you, given all the science that exists around this chemical.

Last but not least, please let me rant a bit on the science…

Thank you! 

The Natural Resources Defense Council has a great article about the science used to determine safe levels of exposure to this chemical.

You’ll need to be sitting down when you click on this one.

Here it is:

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass/highly-hazardous-pesticide-chlorpyrifos-doesnt-look-so-bad-when-i-wear-my-epa

It’s a disgrace to the scientific method that Mr. Pruitt said what he did on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 about keeping this chemical on the market…

Here is an exact quote from his statements:

“By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making β€” rather than predetermined results.”

Honestly, for me it wasn’t a scientific study that brought me over to the side of not using these chemicals. It was a human being I met in Aromas, CA. He will remain nameless. But he was a grower giving a tour of his farm to government agency folks, myself included. He shared how he made the choice to grow strawberries and other fruits and vegetables organically because he wanted his kids to come out and be with their Dad while he worked. Growing with pesticides didn’t afford that perk on the job. 

That man’s story changed me that day I heard it. 

Finally, everything became clear. 

I didn’t need another scientific study to show me the benefits of growing food organically.

This man’s story was reason enough to rethink my position on pesticide use. 

I now realize that these sprays of these incredibly toxic chemicals is a bad idea. 

If your kids can’t come out to the fields with you for fear of being exposed to harmful chemicals, well, maybe it’s time to rethink how you’re farming.

It simply takes pausing for a moment to think about what it requires to get food on your table, and what are you willing to ask someone else to do to get it there.

Do we really want to ask someone to first expose themselves through the application of the pesticide onto the field?

Next, do we really want to ask someone to go out into that field within the allotted time frame deemed safe for human exposure, and go tend to that crop that is growing with this pesticide on it?

I don’t want to be that person.

The conventional agricultural industry would have you believe that it just isn’t possible to grow food without using these chemicals.

And I have found that this is simply not true.

Using the current methods of food production on large scale farms with their slim profit margins, I can see that it would be difficult to ‘turn the ship around’ so to speak toward a zero tolerance policy on these chemicals.

I will grant that.

But it is not impossible.

How do I know this?  

There is an incredible parallel industry of farmers who have chosen a different path.

You already know who these folks are, don’t you?

These are the organic farmers again.  

They don’t believe in using these chemicals.  

They find a different way.  

They work WITH nature to bring in beneficial insects to biologically control pests on their farms.  

They use crop rotations, cover crops, and other organic methods to boost soil health and, as a result, plant health.

Is it perfect? 

No, again, no system is.

Are there losses?  You bet there are.  

It’s raw nature.

But the losses are not as detrimental as the losses that are occurring with the use of these extremely detrimental pesticides.

Loss of beneficial insects, including the mass die off of bees, sterilization of our soils and plants, and exposures to chemicals in human populations living in close proximity to where our food is produced.

It is a sad legacy we are leaving to our children and grandchildren who will be charged with cleaning up the huge environmental messes we are creating every day we consume resources on this planet.

We should all be ashamed that we’ve let this go on for so long on our own watch.

I know I am.  

And I am the first to blame.  

I have contributed greatly in my lifetime to the problem, to this mess.  

I supported farms in my past that use these chemicals in the name of expediency, convenience, and necessity, not being able to afford organic food.

I resigned that I had no choice.  

But I am resigned no longer.  

I now make it a priority in my life to know where my food comes from, and who is producing it.  

I want to be a part of the solution. 

I want to be someone who stops the madness today, stops it right now, and stops it by making a conscious choice to not support growers with my dollars that don’t align with my personal values for the planet and my family.

We don’t need to wait until April 20th, Earth Day, every year (Happy Belated by the way) to proclaim how ‘green’ we are.

We can walk into a grocery store this week, today even, and talk to the workers in the produce department, face to face, about whether or not they know if chlorpyrifos was used on that tomato, that ear of corn, that apple you are about to put into your cart.

Chances are they won’t know.

But you know what they WILL know.

That YOU CARE to know. 

And they, like any other business on the planet, are in the business of providing a product that YOU want, and that YOU CARE about.  

Once you stop caring about that product…guess what? They do too.  

It’s simple supply and demand economics.

Let’s all wake up to the reality that WE, yes, YOU AND ME, hold in our wallets right now ultimate power.  ULTIMATE POWER.  Let’s not pretend that we don’t.  And, let’s not pretend that we can’t change the world one purchase at a time with these almighty dollars we earn each week.

We most certainly can.

And I challenge you to find out more about organic agriculture and its benefits to you, your children, your children’s children, and our pale blue dot of a planet.

I think you’ll be glad you did.

As always, thanks for stopping by.  

Sorry, I know this one was a doozy! πŸ™‚

Thanks for hanging in there to the very end πŸ™‚ 

Days 34-67 Praying for Trump?

  It’s been a busy last month. 

In between all the work and home activities, I found a human being on this planet who is really striving to do good despite a galaxy of negativity and despair around him.

I found this human being first through a random search for an unrelated topic on Youtube, where this human being had addressed a group of atheists in San Jose. 

I usually don’t watch these atheist videos anymore, as I don’t feel the need to hear another story of how Christianity is ‘wrong’, and Atheism is ‘right’. 

I used to though. 
I used to ‘devour’ these videos, and other media, hungry for reasons to combat, at the time, what I thought was the dangerous theology and dogma of Christianity. 

I even created a website to vent all my frustrations. 

Haven’t written anything in quite a while at this site. That may change soon based on this recent discovery I am writing about today. 

After watching this human being’s Youtube video though, I was inspired to learn more, and I searched out this human being’s podcast

Then I found a New York Times article written about this human being. 

Then a recently published book, and finally I directly connected with this human being via email.

The power of the internet to connect us all in full force.

This humanized being is Bart Campolo (pictured above at work as the Humanist Chaplain at the University of Southern California).

And if you have never heard of this person (which until a few weeks ago I hadn’t), I think you will be hearing more of him in the near future. 

This person is just an absolute tornado of goodness, and positivity. 

It’s hard, in my opinion, to not come away inspired after listening to this human being speak.

Bart’s podcast called ‘Humanize Me‘ is where he shares stories and experiences of hope and community, and how to live a meaningful life even if you’ve renounced your beliefs in the Christian God, or any supernatural being or beings for that matter.

If Bart’s last name sounds familiar, it may be because his father, Tony Campolo, is an evangelical Christian theologian who’s counseled Presidents of the United States, and many others, and continues to do so, even into his eigth decade on the planet.

Bart’s recently published podcast on praying for Trump, while at first glance, seems like an epic waste of time, really got me thinking about alot of different things. 

Mainly, that our perspectives on this election, and our current president, should not counter our ability as humans to try and reach across the chasm of our differences, and still maintain civility, and hopefully somewhere, a dash of humor, in dealing with people who didn’t vote the way you voted. 

I know it’s hard. 

I know there isn’t much to laugh about these days. 

There is much that is concerning about how our current leaders are conducting themselves in the public arena. 

At times, it seems our democracy hangs by a thread.

At times, I cringe watching what comes out of the mouths of our elected leaders.

But, even admist all the disgusting weildings of power, you and I know what we need to do to make this world a better place, to save this planet, to save ourselves.  

Don’t we?

We don’t need a government to tell us this either. 

Do we?

We all know. 

And Bart’s podcast touches on it. 

We all know that it all comes down to compassion and kindness. 

And we all know that every day, we all have the same 24 hours to practice this compassion and kindness.

On ourselves.

On others (including others we don’t like, others that don’t look like us, others that may not even be humans like animals in a feed lot or cage).

On our planet.

Rinse and repeat. 

Compassion and kindness with ourselves leads to compassion and kindness towards others, leads to compassion and kindness towards our planet. 

Rinse and repeat, again.

This is  our challenge. 

This is my challenge.

I fail miserably everyday at it. 

I get beat up like Rocky in the ring, and have to pull myself up using the ropes and voices like Burgess Meredith’s telling me to never give up. 

That compassion and kindness towards myself, towards others, towards our planet, is worth pulling myself up again for.

I want to thank Bart Campolo for introducing me to his ‘brand’ of goodness, and a group of people, a community, striving for goodness in this world where there often isn’t alot to go around.

Thank you, Bart. 

Thank you for Humanizing Me, and being a shining light to others with your message of hope.

May we all pray in whatever way makes sense to us for our president, and for each other, and for our planet. 

And may we all start practicing compassion and kindness today in a way that leads to real change in how we do things here on this Pale Blue Dot.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Days 29-33…Taking the time to explain WHY you believe something is important

I’ve always struggled in debates and with conflict. 

I run from both like Forrest Gump trying to find peace without Jenny. 

This story about a father and daughter really made me pause over this past weekend. 

The part that really stuck with me was when the daughter is explaining to her father what the greenhouse effect is, how it works, and why it’s important to all of us and to all life on this pale blue dot of a planet.

She takes 17 minutes to do it.

At the end of those 17 minutes, her father, Christian conservative, Donald Trump supporter, and ardent denier of climate change, softens to the fact that there may just be something to us humans creating problems for ourselves and how we live our lives day in and day out here. 

It really got me thinking about whether or not I take this kind of time to explain my position on any given subject. 

I already know the answer.

I haven’t, and I don’t. 

But clearly there may be some benefit. 

Some benefit to taking that time to explain ourselves to others who may not agree with us, and vice versa, some benefit to us taking time to listen to others trying to explain themselves to us.

Hope you enjoy the story, and I hope it gets you thinking about a position you might like 17 minutes to explain to someone else.

As always, thanks for stopping by. 

A Daughter Of Coal Country Battles Climate Change β€” And Her Father’s Doubt

by Rebecca Hersher
NPR – February 16, 2017

The economy in southwestern Pennsylvania has been hit twice, once by the collapse of big mining and steel employers, and again by the environmental destruction that accompanied those industries….

http://www.npr.org/2017/02/16/515621840/a-daughter-of-coal-country-battles-climate-change-and-her-fathers-doubt?sc=17&f=1007&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app

 

Days 26 and 27…Pizza, Church, and Tracy Chapman

Special thanks to my dear friend, Lance Wilder, for inspiring me today to write this.

I loved the story you shared on Facebook about the late Mr. Ilitch, who founded Little Caesar’s pizza, and now, it’s come to light, secretly helped Rosa Parks pay her rent for many years.

Here’s the link:

https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxnews.com/sports/2017/02/16/late-sports-owner-mike-ilitch-paid-rosa-parks-rent-for-more-than-10-years.amp.html?client=safari

Thank you, Lance.

Right after I read your post, I saw another inspiring story.
This one about a church in Colorado.

Here’s the link:

http://www.npr.org/2017/02/16/515510996/colorado-church-offers-immigrant-sanctuary-from-deportation?sc=17&f=1001&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app

In the spirit of your post, Lance, this 40-something atheist may just have to seek out a First Unitarian church this upcoming Sunday to show my support for what they’re doing.

As Tracy Chapman said so eloquently back in 1988 at that Amnesty International concert, we’re ‘Talkin’ bout a revolution’.

It starts with all of us today.

May we all show revolutionary love, kindness, and tenderness like these human beings above did.

I think Jesus, if he existed, would be moved to tears by these stories.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Days 20-25…Reconnecting, Thankfulness, and Looking Up!

 Apologies in advance as this is a very wordy (even for my tastes), and very long thank you letter to Tricia McCauley, and our dear friends who gathered over this past weekend to say farewell to her Act I, and on with the show for her Act II. 

It was sad to have to say goodbye to you, dear friend, Tricia McCauley, this past weekend.

As much as I hate to admit that I haven’t ‘made it big’ out west as a government employee digging in the soil, I wouldn’t have been able to make it out from California to be with you and all our dear friends without the help of one very dear, very special person to me, Bradley Bannon, my brother from another mother (Becky Bannon)

Brad made this past weekend possible for me by helping me out with my airfare out to the east coast.

You picked me up from the airport, you caffeinated me, you housed me, you drove the entire way to and from Myrtle, providing endless Lost Boys Soundtrack and Michael Jackson songs to drown out the pain of losing our dear friend. You made it possible to stay at Chez Becky Bannon’s B & B (Thank you so much, Mrs. Bannon!)

I am forever in your debt, Brad.

No words. 

Tricia, I so wish I’d made time to get down to D.C. in the early 2000’s, like Brad did in the mid to late 90’s, when my partner in this life, Chihiro Koshimizu Mather, and I lived in Pennsylvania.  I was going to grad school then, and we were just a ‘hop, skip, and a jump away’ from you. 

You would have loved Chihiro. 

She has alot of the same spirit and zest for life like you. 

She loves the theatre too. 

You two would have hit it off I’m sure.  

Brad called me the day we all found out that you wouldn’t be coming back to this Act. 

That you had experienced a very painful and unnecessary exit from your first Act. 

There are no words to describe your pain, and the pain we all felt for you in that scene. 

It still haunts Brad, and all of us. 

We weep and wail, strive and struggle to understand such violence visited on such a caring, nurturing, beautiful soul like you, Tricia. 

The beautiful memorial service on Saturday that was led by your dear friend, and mine, our amazingly inclusive, amazingly kind, and amazingly generous classmate, Amy Altz, is beyond words, just beyond beautiful.

Her tribute to you, Tricia, which I know you heard and felt, was so moving, and so fitting to the life you so well lived, and so well loved down here. 

Thank you, dear Amy. Thank you so much for doing that for Tricia.

Your words helped us all heal more that day, more than any other since late December. 

Thank you. Absolutely priceless.

Tricia, I have to say, you’re starting to really make me believe that there are no goodbyes, as your memory and smile and light shone brightly and brilliantly on us all on Saturday, February 11th, as you brought us all together, first, in that lobby at the Surfside Resort.

Your beautiful pictures taken by the incredibly talented, Tammy Raabe, also our dear classmate, and placed into that gorgeous frame by our dear friend, Raouf Hilal, just months before you passed on to your next Stage, are also beyond words to describe their profound impact on all of us. 

I can just hear the Universe Director saying ‘Tricia, exit Stage Left, but get ready for Act II! You only have a few minutes to change your costume!’ 

And to all of us, this same director is saying ‘You haven’t seen anything yet in terms of the magnitude of Tricia’s life, and what it will mean to countless other lives who strive to be just like her!’

Count me in as one of the countless.

Tricia, you are so sorely missed down here.

My heart goes out to all of us who gathered this weekend to remember you.

From Amy Altz, who organized the majority of our events, and kept us all informed and organized so wonderfully to get us to that lobby and beach in Surfside, and the Gulf Stream Cafe.

Both your laugh, Amy, and Tricia’s are fused now I think πŸ™‚

Please never stop laughing…either of you.

To Sabrina Todd, who, no doubt, behind the scenes made much of the details of the weekend happen including the ‘Fellowship of the Egg’ (Brad’s photo caption inspired me to go Tolkien) ;0…

In theaters next December… lol! 

Thank You, dear Sabrina! 

So great to see you again! 

To Leigh Ammons Meese, who managed many of the behind the scene details too of the weekend, including food and drink arrangements, and the amazing communicating with Tricia’s dear parents and brother, Brian, accepting some of Tricia’s earthly ashes which you so beautifully scattered into the wind, Leigh, and had us all…look up. 

That is a moment I will never forget, as long as I have breath, a moment to pause and remember how cyclical yours, and my, and all of our existences are here on this planet. 

Thank you my dear friend, Leigh. Thank you.

Let us all look up, and remember to be kind, and to hold onto each other, as your brother, Brian, said to us all after your passing. 

I know you would want us to keep doing that. 

Kenneth Mitchell put it so beautifully, and I am going to mess it up exactly what he said, but I know you heard him perfectly, something to the effect of, you are now one with the universe, Tricia.

Thank you, dear Ken. 

And thank you for searching out those amazing plants at Huntington State Park that Tricia no doubt was with you on those ‘permaculture missions’. 

Thank you too for carrying Tricia’s beautiful agricultural ‘torch’ there in Upstate South Carolina while caring for your mother. You are a good man. 

It’s an honor to know you.

To Raouf Hilal, as mentioned, putting those fantastic photos of Tricia in a frame, and just being you, a rock to all of us as we wept for Tricia, on the beach. 

And also for giving us all flower petals to cast into the wind to follow Tricia’s ashes. So beautiful. Thank you, dear friend, Raouf. Thank you.

To Darlene Fogg, my dear classmate and friend, who drove over 7 hours from her home and her two young daughters, and partner, to be with us and share in Tricia’s life.

It was so good to see you, Darlene. 

Thank you, dear friend, for being there for Tricia. 

To Jenn Cribb, who also shared in our sorrow missing you, and reminding us to laugh as only she and Bradley Bannon could, being the wittiest (superlative infused) amongst our classmates at Socastee High. 

Thank you for your kindness, and the love you expressed for Tricia, and all of us.

To Jennifer Van Houten, for sharing your thoughts on Tricia, especially your Maui and Sons wall art talent photo with me πŸ™‚ Impressive! 

Definitely Tricia approved πŸ™‚ 

Your presence on Saturday was just so appreciated, and I know Tricia was smiling above on you, her dear friend. 

Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you so much. Was wonderful to see you and reconnect after all these years.

And to someone I’ve just met, but feel a kinship and kindness with…

Harold, Amy’s ‘rock and fortress’, her partner in this life and someone who knew Tricia from the many visits Tricia would make down south to Florida over the years of Amy and Tricia knowing each other. 

Harold held Amy during the memorial service as she tried to finish reading her heartfelt sentences before tears rushed in, replacing language.  

It was a beautifully sad, beautifully touching moment that I also will never forget. 

Harold, we all decided, was a ‘keeper’, as he shared Amy’s and his apple pie at the Gulf Stream Cafe with the group and said, ‘If you dig in, you’ll find the devil’ πŸ™‚ Lol. 

Amy, thank you for the beautiful key chains you gave all of us (mine’s obviously influencing Boba Fett above in the photo from Brad’s breakfast table)

Words can’t express how touching that was to receive that gift from you. 

Thank you. You put it so succinctly…so perfectly. 

You got us through by getting us to Look Up to Tricia, With Tricia, and For Tricia. 

Thank you dear friend. Thank you.

Finally, it was great to be able to see and talk with Leigh’s husband, David, who I am sure has been a rock to Leigh throughout this very difficult time losing her dear friend. 

Thank you, David, for being there with all of us, and for being there for Leigh. 

You are also a very kind soul. 

It really emanates from you. 

Thank you. 

Tricia, your death has only made your light stronger and brighter, much like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s passing in Star Wars Episode IV.

Please rewatch this movie for me as you embark on your Act II. 

I know Star Wars may have played second fiddle to Fiddler on the Roof, you big Theatre Geek you πŸ™‚ but when you get a moment, when you’re not outshining the stars up there, this scene towards the end takes on new meaning to me with your passing…

It’s obviously the scene where Darth Vader strikes down Ben Kenobi. 

I can’t help but think now of how your life force is expanding exponentially like Ben’s did, and let’s face it, the Force is real, and it’s strong with you.

If you need an HD copy of the New Hope, I’m sure Brad can loan you his πŸ™‚ 

Embarrassingly, I only still have a VHS copy 😦 

I miss you, dear friend. 

Still hard to believe you are already onto your next Act.

We will never forget you. 

Never. 

We will forever look up to you. 

Forever.

Word. Palabra. Forever. (Stolen from Brad’s signage of Raouf’s yearbook, 30 years later.) πŸ™‚

Love, love, love,

D

 

Days 16-19…From Headspace to Tara Brach

I’ve been trying to meditate each morning for about 10 minutes before everyone gets up in my house. 

So far, I’d say I’m somewhere in the 80-90% consistency bracket since starting Headspace back in January. 

Not too shabby for a guy who really has a hard time sitting, and thinking, still. 

I wanted to continue with Headspace after the 10 day free trial, but it was just a bit too much for us financially to commit to at the moment (about $13 per month). 

Still, I would recommend Headspace to anyone interested in trying meditation if you can swing that cash freely each month. 

Unfortunately, no can do right now in our household.

So, I went back to Tara Brach, and her podcasts, and I wanted to see if she offered any 10-13 minute meditations that might get me through these next few months until I can maybe, maybe get back to Headspace and subscribe to their service. 

And lo and behold she does indeed have some of these meditations available for free. 

Free, but with a slight caveat that really nothing is free in this life, as you and I both know, right?

Any donation you might be able to swing her way is so very welcome, and really helps support her incredible work. 

Please, if it does help you, consider clicking HERE later to support her efforts. 

Thanks πŸ™‚

Here is a  link to one of the meditations I found helpful that I hope may help you:

https://www.tarabrach.com/part-3-a-forgiving-heart-audio/    

The meditation is towards the end of the 1 hour talk. 

I would imagine this whole talk is great, haven’t listened to it, but to just get to the meditation, just fast forward the video to 49:14, and you’ll be right where the meditation begins and runs approximately 11 minutes.

The other option is to subscribe to her feed on iTunes, and go to her March 1, 2014 episode entitled, ‘Guided Forgiveness Meditation’. 

Here’s Tara Brach’s iTunes subscription link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tara-brach/id265264862?mt=2 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a URL for this particular meditation to post here. 

If anyone does find it, please feel free to post it in the comments, and I’ll be sure to update this post with the URL.

As always, thanks for stopping by. 

Days 14 and 15…Remembering that we were all young once.

The following talk by Deeyah Khan is one I’ve listened to twice, and I still can’t fully grasp it’s profound impact and meaning.

This talk brought me back a few years. 

Can you remember the days before responsibilities were heaped upon you, either by choice or by someone else? 

It’s hard in some respects, easier in others, right?!

For me, watching Star Wars, Episode 4, A New Hope, jettisons me back to my 7 year old self when life consisted of hard questions to answer like, who would my sister get to be when we played with our action figures, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or Princess Leia, and what would I get to be? 

Tough stuff.

For some reason that cinematic backdrop just makes it easier for me to remember myself with alot less years under and around (lol) my belt, so to speak.

I bring this up today, Day 15, the 15th full day of our president’s term, because Ms. Khan’s talk above, made me go back to where I was at 7 years old, and think about how it must have been to be someone else growing up in Norway with brown skin, female with a Muslim name, and a Muslim culture.

Her childhood was obviously nothing like mine, but, despite that, all of us having been young can certainly sympathize with her in what it must have felt like to endure what she had to endure from those adults and kids in and outside her culture. 

I am hoping that you might be able to sympathize with Ms. Khan today after listening to her talk.

I was struck by how Ms Khan chose love instead of hate, peace instead of violence, courage instead of fear, when she easily could have gone the other way. 

I was also struck by how she still reaches out to these young people, these very same folks who, let’s be honest, could very well try to hurt her, to tell their forgotten stories. 

And Ms. Khan tells it with a sense of solidarity with these people who have chosen a different path than her.

Truly amazing.

Ms. Khan tells stories from the countries that we don’t want to talk about. 

Stories from people we don’t want to put a human face on.

It’s too hard. 

It’s much easier to make these people who wear black veils, and speak in a language other than our own, and do unspeakable acts of violence towards their fellow human beings into pure evil, large monsters, dark demons, etc.

I am not condoning these acts of brutality. 

I am simply asking us to try and really come to an agreement as to why it happens. 

Not to just simply label the terrorists on our planet as monsters and feel smug in our own livelihoods.

It’s very difficult. 

I’m not pretending it’s easy. 

I struggle with it myself. 

I think this talk may help.

In my mind, there is no mystery in where evil comes from on our pale blue dot. 

I believe it comes from people acting out in fear and hatred to ‘the other’, the ‘not like me’ person, the animal, the infidel, the heathen, the whore, the you fill in the next ad infinitum insult to our common heritage as human beings. 

It comes from you and I not practicing love and kindness towards ourselves first, and then each other, and then our planet.

The evil comes from us everyday. 

Everyday. 

Everyday. 

Ad Infinitum. 

But I also believe it can stop.

It can stop today, and it can stop with you and me.

You and I can take a small personal stand today to stop violence and fear and hatred towards ourselves first. 

Then, once we’ve taken that stand, we can move on toward taking another toward stopping violence and fear towards others. 

May we all rise above the hatred and the bitterness today.

May we all choose love today.

I hope this talk from Ms. Khan might help you start moving toward love and kindness, as it’s helping me do the same.

I still struggle. 

I’m no where close to ‘there’. 

I think I always will struggle. 

But it’s in the struggle where the real learning happens, right?!

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Days 10, 11, 12, & 13…Remembering Alan Kurdi, and a plea to our PresidentΒ 

I’ve missed a few days of the ever wide ning executive orders that come out of  our current government. 

Picking back up on our days since the inauguration of our new president, I hope that the following can be an open reminder to all inhabitants of our pale blue dot, that in our race to become safe and border secure, we not forget Alan Kurdi.

Do you remember this image?

  
It’s hard to forget.

That’s Alan, the 3 year old refugee from Syria, who, if we were alive today, would learn that last Friday, the Executive Order from our president of the United States is not helping our most desperate of citizens here on our pale blue dot.

Let us please remember our most desperate of citizens like Alan. 

Let us rise above the fear, and do what Jesus Christ most assuredly would have done; accept people who are escaping war torn regions of our planet with open arms, and with love. 

From Day 5, I’d shared a podcast from Tara Brach

From today, I’d like to share this podcast again, and ask you to focus in on just the 23rd minute of the broadcast. 

You only need to listen to between the 23rd and the 25th minutes of this broadcast, and I think, maybe, just maybe, your heart would soften to our most desperate on the planet?

Tara Brach shares a poem from Warsan Shire that is so powerful, and so timely for today’s headlines. 

May we all react in love and kindness despite our government’s responses to the contrary. 

As Michelle Obama so beautifully put it, when they go low, we go high.

Love always wins. Always. 

No matter what, please find a way to love in these dark, despairing times. 

Reject violence and hatred, even when it seems impossible to do so. 

To Mr. Trump, please reconsider your order from last Friday. 

Please.

I beg you. 

It’s not too late to change your mind on this. 

Your order does not reflect well on who we are as a country of immigrants and refugees, a country that welcomes people of all religions, creeds, and walks of life. 

This order you signed does not even remotely come close to reflecting the true goodness, love, and kindness that the American people feel toward those in need.

As always, thank you for stopping by.

Day 9 – An apology you may have missed, but in the Black Lives Matter Movement, and all that Black lives have had to endure in this country since it was founded, I think this one should be duly noted.

 

‘They killed our people.’ 
Those were four words overheard by someone in the LaGrange police department in LaGrange, GA, date unknown, and somehow made their way all the way up to the police chief, (pictured above), Louis Dekmar’s desk. 

Mr. Dekmar could have chosen to ignore those four words. 

Thankfully, he chose to lean into them, do his job, and investigate.

I wasn’t expecting this news story to grab my attention, but it has, and I suspect it will, in the days ahead. 

Sometimes a genuine apology is needed to start the healing process. 

Those three words are so powerful. 

‘I am sorry.’

Mr. Dekmar’s apology was even stronger than those three words.

‘I am profoundly sorry.’ 

Followed by…

‘This should never have happened.’

It’s not everything, and it doesn’t help bring back loved ones from their grisly graves from whence the hate and fear snuffed them out in brutal fashion, but it’s a start. 

And starting is the hardest part. 

Sorry Tom Petty. Agree to disagree.

I hope you feel something for our brothers and sisters on this planet who have had a very difficult first 240+ years in this country, this sea to shining sea landscape, since our country was founded, and even beyond that. 

And I hope this story might give more context in terms of what our brothers and sisters with more melanin in their epidermis than me are up against in this country still. 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/27/512036362/in-apology-for-decades-old-lynching-police-chief-aims-to-interrupt-the-past?sc=17&f=1001&utm_source=iosnewsapp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=app

As always, thanks for stopping by.